Several species of cat are in fact referred to as panthers, their individual coat colors and patterns vary, as do their country of origin. The Leopard, the Jaguar, and the Puma, are three cats that have been crowned panthers. A panther is usually considered to be a large cat with a sleek body and long tail.


The Florida panther is not a Black panther: The leopard in this photo is commonly called a “Black Panther” and is not one of Florida’s endangered species, it is a melanistic leopard, and leopards are not native to the Americas. The leopard Panthera pardus is found throughout parts of Asia, India, Africa and the Middle East. The leopard is considered threatened in some parts of its range, and endangered in others. Dark coated leopards are bred in captivity, but they are less common in the wild. Populations of the dark variety tend to occur in dense jungle habitats, such as those found in Malaysia.


In Florida the Puma is called a panther, and one of the most endangered mammals in the State. The Florida panther, is in fact a tawny colored cat as seen in the photo below. But for many folk’s the term panther is synonymous with black, so visitors to the state come expecting to see a big black cat.


Sightings of black panthers abound, throughout Canada, the US, South America, Great Britain, Australia and even New Zealand. In Florida, locals and visitors say they see them, but do they? What animals are these people actually seeing, thing is we don’t really know.


Some of these sightings are surely a case of mistaken identity, and the animal was not a black panther. Other sightings may have been Florida panthers, the shade of their coat appearing darker due to lack of light, viewing distance, or the speed at which the cat was moving. See the cats in the photo below, their coats in the shadows appear to be black. 


Believe me... If you see a panther in Florida, don’t fret that it isn’t black. It is just as cool to have seen this cat in all its tawny colored glory! I have never seen one in the wild; I have only seen their tracks. If you ever get to see a wild panther - you are one of the privileged.




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